Saturday, May 02, 2009

TWO WHEELS OR FOUR-YOU BE THE JUDGE

Popular Mechanics magazine recently tested a Ducati Hypermotard alongside the Honda Fit and graded the test on a curve. Well, a series of curves. It was quite a test.

CHEAP THRILL OR THRIFTY ACCOMPLISHMENT?

The adrenaline rush that comes from piloting a sporty car or a hot-blooded motorcycle through a series of sinuous curves is a joy every gearhead craves. It’s not all about gunning for flat-out, maximum speed. Smoothly connect each corner with the perfect combination of velocity and precision and the experience becomes more than just a cheap thrill—it’s an accomplishment.

Such mechanized fun doesn’t have to come with a sky-high price tag or an EPA fuel-economy rating in the single digits. In fact, for less than $20,000 you can buy a vehicle that will serve as both a weekend toy and a fuel-efficient commuter. The big question is, two wheels or four? We gathered together a pair of seemingly dissimilar vehicles—a high-strung, Italian-bred Ducati Hypermotard 1100 S and a sensible, versatile Honda Fit Sport—to see how they stack up when it comes to fun, practicality and fuel efficiency. We brought them both to Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., and ran them through our usual instrumented tests. We braved many miles of Los Angeles’ famous traffic, and then, finally, we had some fun on Glendora Mountain Road, a 15-mile roller coaster of twisting, turning blacktop in Angeles National Forest. So can a sexy superbike compete with a fuel-efficient hatchback when it comes to value? Can the humble car match the bike for driving thrills? The results may surprise you.


QUITE A CHALLENGE TO PICK A WINNER

So, which one offers the best bang for the buck? There’s no easy answer. The Ducati and Honda are both fun, but we’d certainly crown the fire-breathing Hypermotard king of that battle. As a commuter, we’ll give the edge to the Fit. The Ducati can make better time, but the stiff seat and cramped foot-peg position mean this bike isn’t our first choice for a long-distance cruise. The Fit, on the other hand, would be comfortable enough for a cross-country Cannonball Run. The endgame comes down to fuel efficiency and price. Over our test route, the Honda returned a solid 29.8 mpg. But the high-strung, Italian-bred superbike delivered an incredible 48.9 mpg and cost about $1900 less. That’s the tipping point. Winner: Ducati.

BOTH CAN PARK IN THE DESERT OF THE REAL!

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